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Jumbo bluegills seek deep water in summer By Larry Myhre

When fishermen think of bluegills, their thoughts turn to weed beds.

“That’s where they are right now, right?”

Well, if you are happy with small to mid-size ‘gills, you’re right. But if it is those dinner plate-sized jumbos you want, that answer is wrong.

Big bluegills, and I’m talking those nine, 10 or bigger-sized hogs, are not found in the weeds during the dog days of summer. No, those giant, ultra-light-tackle-busting monsters are found in deep water in glacial lakes all across the upper Midwest.

I guess we should get a little more specific right now, especially when we are talking about lakes. Good bluegill lakes are a lot like good walleye lakes. Lots of deep water, lots of sunken islands and bars, long tapering points and some black bottom bays. If your lake doesn’t fit that description, thick weed beds might be your best option.

I first ran across deep water ‘gills on Lake Vermillion, that big jewel of a lake located on the Precambrian shield of northeast Minnesota. It’s not exactly the kind of lake we’re talking about here, but the big bluegills leave the bays and get on structure in the summertime. Back in the mid ’70s it didn’t have a very strong bluegill population. That has since changed, however.

I was probing the deep bars and sunken islands looking for smallmouth bass using 1/16-ounce marabou jigs.

There was a tiny rock bar about 12 feet down, not much bigger than the average-size living room. I found it by accident since it was not on the map, but my flasher found it. It topped out at 12 feet and when the first fish came in I was really surprised. It was a big bluegill. I caught and released several of them off that small bar each day thereafter.

It was food for thought, but being a little thick-headed, I didn’t put two and two together.

A couple years later I was fishing Lake Wapogasset near Amery, Wisconsin. It was a walleye factory in those days and I found them easy pickings during the seven days I fished there. There’s a major point, so broad it is almost a flat in the southeast corner of the lake. Walleyes were thick all along the weed line. [Read more…]